No Way Out But Through--A Retrospective on Giving Birth


I don’t plan to have any more babies and I feel really, really good about it. I like my kids and I feel stretched just beyond what I can comfortably handle (just about two kids, two cats, and a dog beyond what I can comfortably handle). I have older children who surprise me by being capable, nice, and funny. And I still have a five-year-old which lets me keep my aging foot in the door of being a “cute young mom.”

I’m almost ready to shut the door on cute young momhood forever. Then, I assume, I will become the harried, unappreciated mother of teenagers and young adults. That will be fun because 1) cooler movies 2) less seatbelt-buckling but nerve wracking because 3) more serious problems. I guess I will embrace this stage because, what else am I going to do?

Maybe my approach to motherhood is too passive, but it has served me well the last 15 years I have been parenting. When it seems too hard, too infuriating, too stinky to proceed I just think, “what else am I going to do? “and I wipe up the poop. When I was pregnant with Sam 15 years ago I was very afraid of labor and how much it would hurt and also the compromising nudity of it all. My mom told me that labor lasts about a day in the grand scheme of things. “You can do anything for a day.” She was right.

I was proactive about choosing a good doctor but when I went into labor the freaky doctor I had once visited who had pictures of Tom Cruise on the ceiling of his exam room was the on-call doctor. He made me have an enema and I felt like I was being abused and I cried. I really hated that guy but in retrospect I think I was kind of a baby. There’s really no way out of labor–or parenting–but through.

In the wee hours of the morning before my baby was born a new doctor came on call–a wonderful, warm, helpful, perfect doctor who I would never have met had things gone according to my “plan.” He delivered Sam and all the rest of my babies. I was never interested in trying a water birth or a home birth or a natural birth or anything different. Thinking back, I could have done without the enema but everything else worked out fine. It’s not that I’m uninformed about things like Doualas and vbacs–I do read the internet. I just don’t understand making such a big deal out if it because it’s already, like, the hugest deal.

When I was pregnant for the first time I used to read two chapters ahead in What to Expect When You are Expecting and then I would force myself to wait so I wouldn’t read the whole book in a night. (Reading a whole book in a night? Obviously this was before I had kids.) I would write down all my questions for the doctor in my Franklin Planner. I remember one time I wrote down this question: “Can a baby sleep in a stroller?” I just laugh to think of it now. I don’t know why it strikes me as so funny. I also don’t know why it seemed so urgent that I ask a doctor that question.

“Excuse me, doctor, can a baby sleep in a stroller?”

The answer is, yes. A baby can sleep in a stroller.

If you’re a new mom reading this–Good luck. And, you can do it. Remember, a baby can sleep in a stroller.

What else? Any good advice or encouraging words you’d like to share with other moms?

More of my writing on Kid Scoop:

10 Classic Cartoons that Taught Me Everything I Know

School Lunch is Too Healthy

Use Superheroes to Teach Your Kids Science

Read more from me at Every Day I Write the Book

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